News & Insights

USCIS Processing Delays

The length of time for adjudication of petitions through USCIS continues to increase despite a new administration and new leadership of USCIS in the form of Alejandro Mayorkas.

On March 22, 2021 the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA) filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), specifically in relation to the long processing times for H-4 and L-2 EADs.  The lawsuit alleges that more than 91,000 people have lost their jobs because USCIS has failed to timely adjudicate their visa extensions and EADs.  AILA hopes that the filing of the lawsuit will encourage DHS to adopt measures to allow affected individuals to get back to work in 30-60 days.  AILA has said that if DHS does not take swift action that they may file an injunction.

Additionally, on the same date, AILA also sent a letter to USCIS urging them to take immediate action to fix the extraordinary delays for H-4, L-2 and F-1 immigrants.  The letter argues that the Trump’s administration restrictive policy of requiring biometrics for H-4, L-2 and other dependents has caused significant delays, especially as USCIS has been unable to collect biometrics due to the pandemic.

AILA has suggested a number of possible solutions to fix the H-4, L-2 and F-1 EAD delays including the following:

  • Rescinding the 2019 policy which requires biometric appointments and to start adjudicating dependent applications at the same time as the principal applicant, as was previously the case;
  • Providing automatic work authorization extensions so that applicants can continue to work while USCIS adjudicates their EAD applications;
  • Allowing earlier filing of EAD renewals beyond the current 180- day limit. This would allow applicants to file early and hopefully receive an EAD prior to the expiration of their current one.

We hope that the actions taken by AILA will prompt the government to take immediate action to remedy the current processing delays to enable individuals to get back to work.  We will continue to monitor this situation and will provide further updates when there is more news.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact PLG Partner Chris Prescott for your immigration-related needs at cprescott@patellegal.com

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